Itâ€™s Moore and Mercedes at Michigan! Three-pointed Star Wins Thrilling Battles in CART and F1 The Mercedes-Benz IC108E Champ Car engine enjoyed a triumphant run in its first 500-mile race as Greg Moore out-dueled Jimmy Vasser and ...
It’s Moore and Mercedes at Michigan! Three-pointed Star Wins Thrilling Battles in CART and F1
The Mercedes-Benz IC108E Champ Car engine enjoyed a triumphant run in its first 500-mile race as Greg Moore out-dueled Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi in the final laps of an action-packed U.S. 500 to score his second FedEx Championship Series win of the season.
As expected, drafting was the most important factor in the race. The new high-drag, low-downforce Handford Wing resulted in close racing throughout the event’s 250 laps, with the lead changing hands no fewer than 62 times.
Following a late-race caution period after Gil de Ferran’s Honda engine failed, it came down to a five-lap shoot-out between Moore, Vasser, Zanardi and Scott Pruett. Within the last four laps, Zanardi, Vasser and Moore each took a turn at the front. Moore finally captured the lead at the start of the final lap, holding off Vasser and Zanardi for the run to the checkered flag.
The win was the second of the weekend for Mercedes-Benz, which also powered West McLaren Mercedes teammates Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard to a one-two finish in the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria.
Moore’s Player’s/Forsythe Racing teammate Patrick Carpentier was the second-highest finishing Mercedes at Michigan Speedway. Despite pitting just before a yellow flag and losing two laps to the leaders, he managed to get back on the lead lap, finishing eighth.
Rookie Helio Castro-Neves finished in a points-paying position in his first 500-mile experience. Although he was black flagged when his Team Alumax car was reported smoking, he recovered to finish 12th. PacWest Racing teammates Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell finished 13th and 17th, respectively. Gugelmin was plagued by a failed right rear shock absorber, and Blundell battled handling problems from the start.
Hogan Racing rookie JJ Lehto ran among the leaders, but hit the wall on lap 223. Uninjured, he was credited with 20th place. Marlboro Team Penske’s Al Unser Jr. and Andre Ribeiro ran competitively early in the race, with Unser leading the first lap. But both retired early with oil leaking from cracked overflow tanks.
Greg Moore, No. 99, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Winner
"This race was flat out from start to finish. On the last lap, I knew this was my last chance. The draft here is so big that sometimes it’s impossible to prevent someone from going by. On the straight, I was going back and forth trying to take the draft away from Jimmy (Vasser), so he couldn’t get by me. Once I got through turn three and four, I knew they weren’t close enough to draft by me. This race was a lot of fun. The new rear wing made for some great racing today. The people here came to see a show, and we gave them one."
Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Eighth
"I’m really happy. We started out with the car really loose, but the team told me to stay out and work through it. Then we got really unlucky with the yellow flags and lost two laps when we pitted. But we made them back up and passed most of the rest of the field. I think we set the fastest race lap, but we needed another 50 laps to get to the front. I’m really happy for Greg (Moore). Those guys did a great job."
Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16 Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 12th
"Well, my first 500 miles--I’m very happy with the way we finished. All of the Mercedes-Benz engines ran very well, and I congratulate Greg Moore on winning. It was a tough race, with all of the drafting. Some of the CART officials thought they saw some problem with our car. They gave us a black flag, and we had to come into the pits. At least we got another point. We’re going to keep going to the end of this championship."
Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17 Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 13th
"Since the flag dropped, I’ve been going backwards. I couldn’t run high; I couldn’t run low. There were no dramas, the engine ran perfectly all day, but the right rear shock came apart. We lost all the fluid, and that was it. The car just wouldn’t handle. It was loose early, so we put some more aero in it, but we still couldn’t make up any ground."
Mark Blundell, No. 18 Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 17th
"That was the longest 500-mile race I’ve ever run. We didn’t have a good balance early on, and because of that we suffered a lot in traffic and went down a lap very early. Then we had some problems in the pits. That’s a 500-mile race when you know you’ve done every single mile."
JJ Lehto, No. 9, Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 20th
"I’m okay. My right knee is bruised, and I’m probably going to be pretty sore tomorrow. I just lost the air in traffic, lost downforce and pushed up into the marbles. After that there was nothing I could do."
Al Unser Jr., No. 2 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 22nd
"Every time I get in front something bad happens. I told Roger (Penske) during the yellow that I was going to try to get around the leaders and get to the front as soon as we went green. The car began having a problem as I was coming off of turn four, then as I got down the back straight it got really bad."
Andre Ribeiro, No. 3 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 28th
"It’s a shame. For sure that’s no way to run. With oil on the tires (from a split catch tank), it’s too dangerous for us and for the rest of the drivers. This was a new kind of racing. The draft was so important, but we were just saving our tires and the engine and waiting until the end. It’s really a shame."